If you’ve watched the powerful war movie Beasts of No Nation, then you’ve definitely seen Tripod, and his tripod. This is his story. Continue reading…
Category Archives: Quick Reads
Two Ngugi’s wrote the celebrated play I will Marry When I Want. One is now a living legend, the other largely forgotten.
In 1977, two men with the same first name co-authored and staged the controversial Kikuyu play Ngaahika ndeenda, which translates to “I will Marry When I want.” The play attacked most of the things that the government of the day had become. It had themes such as greedy capitalism, corruption, and religious hypocrisy. Both men, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his much lesser known compatriot, Ngugi wa Mirii, were arrested and detained and the play banned.
The play remains one of the most critical cultural works of the era. Through different characters, the two playwrights caricature what had become clear by the late 1970s, that Kenyans had simply switched one master for other. In either case, whether it was a colonial power or the characters Kioi and Nditika in power, everyone else was the workhorse. The new lords saw themselves as overseers, telling each other “You and I will be like watchdogs.” It also includes a man called Ndugire, a wealthy farmer who got his wealth from serving as a Homeguard. Every other side but the common man had won.
It was a public shaming of a system that had now become entrenched in Kenya, and put the two on a collision course with the first government. The year after the play was first staged, President Kenyatta died and his Vice-President rose to the throne. One of his most benevolent acts in those early days, before he became a tyranny unto himself, was to release almost all detainees who had been languishing in jail in the increasing tyranny of the 1970s. In that year of detention Ngugi wa Thiong’o had scribbled another novel, this time in Kikuyu, on toilet paper rolls.
Ngugi wa Mirii, like his mentor, was born in Limuru, only 14 years later and in a place called Roromo. He worked his way through school to the University of Nairobi for a diploma in Adult Education. Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o then worked at the same university, and met the younger man when he came to work as a senior research assistant. The two founded and managed the Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Center together. It is at the iconic Kamiriithu that the controversial play showed for six straight weeks, a clear commercial success, until the government learned of it and shut it down.
Like most countries in their earliest years of independence, Zimbabwe was a bastion of Pan-Africanism. It was a logical choice for Ngugi, and allowed him to grow his Pan-African profile. He also became a nationalist, staging many other plays and works that eventually brought him to the fore of Zimbabwean arts.
Spotting a thick moustache and a goatee, Ngugi wa Mirii became a citizen of Zimbabwe, and declared himself “The Son of two Nations.”Ngugi’s profile in Zimbabwe points to a manic spirit and a burning desire to use his art to effect social change. He wrote plays such as Zunde raMambo, Mvura Naya Naya and Orocaza. He also directed and produced two films, Secrets and Exile, and a documentary called Children of the Highlands. He founded the International Community Theater College, the Zimbabwe International African Dance Ensemble, and Visions of Africa. He also founded Southern Africa Performing Arts Network, Southern Africa Theater Initiative.
In Zimbabwe, he ran a nyama choma joint which was popular among Kenyans and locals.
Ngugi wa Mirii perished in car crash in Harare in May 2008, 26 years after he escaped from Kenya. His body was flown to Nairobi, and he was buried next to his father and brother.
@Owaahh Ngugi wa Mirie was buried in Kenya, next to his father in Ngarariga, Limuru. His brother, George Ndungu Mirie was also buried next to them. I know because I was chair to the burial committee.— Kiriro wa Ngugi (@kirirowangugi) December 8, 2018
In his exile he had found a home, one that gave him the chance to make the art for which he had been persecuted at home.
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One story is good,
till Another is told.
Makmende was too big for Wikipedia. Apparently. Continue reading…
In the trivia section of the IMDb profile of the film Sanders of the River (1935) lies this nugget “Jomo Kenyatta, who was President of Kenya from 1963 to 1978, had a bit part in this movie as a tribal chief.” It was a 6-minute role he never talked about, and with good reason. Continue reading…
Sometime in 1925, a six-year-old girl disappeared from a village in Uasin Gishu. She was pulled violently through the fence of thorns that surrounded the village. The bloodied thorns suggested that chances of finding her alive were certainly nil. If they found her body, they would find her scalped and her skull cracked open. Chemosit, the brain-eating terror that roamed the night, had struck again.
No love story in colonial Kenya is as tragic as that of Lord Maurice Egerton, the fourth Baron Egerton of Tatton in Cheshire. When he died in Njoro in 1958, he had never married. His lifelong bachelorhood was not by choice but rather the result of two refusals by the woman of his dreams.
Lost within the Kenyan story are proposals that would have redefined history. Three of those plans stand out: the establishment of a freed slave settlement, a Jewish settlement in the Mau Plateau, and a responsible government under a white settler minority.
On December 12 1963, the Union Jack was lowered and the Kenyan flag hoisted to mark Kenya’s independence. Most of the Union Jacks that were lowered across the country and on the high seas that morning were, however, distinctively representative of the Kenya Colony. They were also very ugly.
The ownership of Kenya’s coastline has been a matter of contention since the Sultan of Zanzibar officially signed it away in 1963. The claims for secession are often accompanied by the history of the great Zanzibar sultanate which once stretched to what is today the Kenyan coastline.
At daybreak on November 4th, 1983, a scream cut through the serenity of Kiaga Village in Kirinyaga. The single scream quickly became cries for help, then wailing of what now sounded like a large group of people. What sounded like the cries of pain of a dying woman would lead residents of the small village to a horrific scene that would haunt them forever.